A long time ago, the motorcar was heralded by the sound of music. Words came about to describe the love for the latest extension of the horse-and-buggy – without equine assistance. It had a motor! It went as fast as a galloping mare! They were remarkable, indeed!
And, we sang about those crazy automobiles!
Even today, the automobile is still a subject for musicians to tackle. The genres of music and vehicle are wide enough to capture the culture we live in. The automobile still plays an integral part of our lives – as does music.
This is why I went ahead and did another Five Favorites. This time, it will focus on songs with automotive content. Genre of music or type of vehicle may vary, but it is not about that. It is about how a song captures the culture of the automobile with context of the story the musician is conveying.
I have a feeling this will harbor plenty of debate. From my iPod to yours…
"NIGHT MOVES" – BOB SEGER: "Out in the back seat" of his 1960 Chevrolet was a story we would never forget. It was commonplace for youth to find their first attempt at lovemaking in the backseat of a car. Could it be some romantic flick at the drive-in? Or, some secluded tucked away place where no one except for one of them. It would seem appropriate that the Dearborn native would take his inspiration from the main product of the region's economy. When the song came out in 1976, rock radio was looking for something to engage its listeners. Since then, it became a standard for "classic rock" radio programming. What may have happened to Seger in the early 1960s inspired a timeless story that continues to be spun inside of millions of iPods.
"LITTLE RED CORVETTE" – PRINCE: My musician friends and other lovers of song and chord may want to sit down as I state the following: Mr. Nelson's 1999 album is one of the top albums ever. The son of North Minneapolis, Prince Rogers Nelson came back from a tough tour with The Rolling Stones to focus on a new sound and better production. If there was one track you would remember from 1999, it would this paean to two loves – women and cars. Yes, but who is sexier – the "little red Corvette" or the lady Prince is referring to. Maybe it was Vanity? Who knows…it was 1982/83! It is not easy to find how Prince turned this ditty to double love into a track that car people could call their own.
"MY HOOPTIE" – SIR MIX-A-LOT: First off, who knew Seattle had a Hip Hop scene to begin with? However, Anthony Ray kicked things off for the Puget Sound area under the guise of Mix with a series of albums that made you laugh through each one of them. In his second album, 1989's Seminar, Mix talked about what was up in the streets. For him, it was about his back-up car – his “Hooptie.” It would not be a rapper's first choice of ride, but if his normal car (a Mercedes-Benz) was in the shop, how will Mix and his crew roll? In the video, Mix showed off a forlorn 1969 Buick Electra. It was a whole story of a day in the life of a baller, his hooptie and the trails and travails of a car that would die on him at a drop of a hat. No mind here, Mix is an enthusiast – a deep one. Still based in his native Seattle, Mix's deep love for the automobile continues today with a single that dropped a year or so ago called "Carsz."
"LOVE SHACK" – THE B-52s: Fred Schneider proclaimed that his Chrysler was "as a big as a whale and it was about to set sail!" His unique vocal stylings, joined by the dual sirens of Kate Pierson and Cindy Wilson and the guitar of former drummer Keith Strickland, Schneider and the gang invites you to a love shack somewhere deep in the woods. The party continues in the huge Chrysler – the video shows a 1965 convertible, possibly a New Yorker – that "seats about 40." The song is about partying – and getting to the party. How else would you get to a place where the tin roof was rusted and the company just as eclectic? Included in said company was RuPaul herself! As campy as it is, this classic 1989 track Don Was produced for the B-52s was the right party song to cap off the 1980s with. It also yielded the Athens, Georgia quartet their first Top 40 pop chart song.
"SOBB STORY" – THE LEADERS OF THE NEW SCHOOL: Before Busta Rhymes hit the gym and went solo, he was part of a crew with Dinco D, Charlie Brown and Cut Monitor Milo who hit big for a few moments in the early 1990s. One of the tracks that came out of this youthful Long Island-based (Uniondale, to be exact) crew told the story of one of the biggest dreams for a teenager – getting a car. While Busta "got stingy" and got a red Nissan Pathfinder, Brown tried to get a ride with anyone to go anywhere. Then, Dinco went on to bust a guy who was all image, but no cash. He had a Saab – with no money for gas. This tale was part of the "Native Tongues" crew and the conscious rap movement where it's members sported Cross Colours and African iconography – perhaps considered one of the best eras in Hip Hop. The time was ripe for a fun track by LONS – 1991. The rest was history – Busta being an auto enthusiast on his own accord. His car collection was ripe for Dub magazine's content.
Photo by Randy Stern